It’s the time of year to plug holes with injury replacements, or with players who are seeing an uptick in their production or playing time. Let’s get straight to this week’s picks!
Carl Nassib, DE TB
This is probably unfair, but I’m going to say it anyway: NFL players seem to really thrive when they’re not in close proximity to Hue Jackson.
Cut by the Browns earlier this year, Carl Nassib has just been too good to ignore. The defensive end has posted a ridiculous 6.5 sacks in the past six games and usually adds enough solo tackles to make him a viable IDP end even without that level of sack production. He’s put up 10 total pressures in the last month while only playing between 29-47 snaps per game. Nassib is young, has a great motor, and seems to be playing possessed since being released by the Browns.
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Gerald Hodges, LB ARI
Josh Bynes, the only linebacker in Arizona worth owning this year, is done for the year. It was great while it lasted.
Gerald Hodges is the priority linebacker add for this week. He stepped right in and produced 7 solo tackles and 3 assists. Yes, it was Hodges and not Deone Bucannon who got the call, and Hodges answered.
The journeyman linebacker also produced well in weeks 2 and 3 when he was handed significant snaps, and Hodges could certainly produce in the neighborhood of what you were getting out of Josh Bynes. As long as Arizona remains a terrible team, expect teams to be running out the clock by running between the tackles. Hodges should be in a great position to capitalize.
De’Vondre Campbell, LB ATL
This is counterintuitive, but De’Vondre Campbell has been getting fewer snaps but is producing more. Since sharing some of his snaps with Duke Riley, Campbell has been steady in his production. In the last month, he’s been between 41-53 snaps per game, but his tackle/assist numbers are as follows: 3/1, 5/3, 3/3, 5/2.
While those numbers aren’t going to guarantee you a championship, if you’re hurting for a linebacker and can’t land one of the bigger fish, he’s at least a decent pickup to park on your bench and use in an emergency.
Elijah Lee, LB SF
When the news of yet another Rueben Foster arrest for domestic violence broke, it didn’t take the 49ers long to show Foster the door. The team cut the troubled linebacker, who was then picked up by Washington.
It’s been a tough road for Niners linebackers in recent years. The team once boasted the best middle in football with Navorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. Injuries shortened the careers of both. In stepped Wunderkind ‘backer Chris Borland, who retired from football after one season, citing worries about repeated head injuries. The 49ers thought they found a keeper in Foster, but his off-field issues were never far away.
Fred Warner has been a breath of fresh air for the team this year, and he’s going to be the main beneficiary of Foster’s absence. There’s no chance he’s available in your league unless it’s incredibly shallow. Beyond Warner, Malcolm Smith figured to get more snaps, but he only managed 26 on Sunday. It was Elijah Lee, the youngster who filled in admirably earlier in the season, who stayed on the field for 49 of 73 snaps. Lee is the one you want here, although you should taper your expectations. He did have a very nice day Sunday with six solo tackles and an assist. An uptick in snaps would make Lee more valuable, but it seems like the Niners want to get Smith on the field too.
Jordan Whitehead, S TB
I was hesitant to recommend rookie Buccaneers safety Jordan Whitehead last week because he was still in the league’s concussion protocol. But Whitehead was able to play and he was on fire. The fourth-rounder racked up a massive 10 solo tackles to go with 1 assist and two passes defensed. It was a monster day for someone who was questionable to even suit up.My only warning on Whitehead is he seems to be bitten by the injury bug this year. In addition to the concussion, he’s had to play through a shoulder injury and a hamstring injury this season. But if he plays, he’s worth firing up as an IDP safety.
Eli Apple, CB NO
Considered a “problem child” in New York, Eli Apple has been nothing short of spectacular since joining the New Orleans Saints. Since arriving in the Big Easy in week 8, Apple has posted 9, 4, 3, 2 and 8 solo tackles, four total passes defensed and three assists.
He’s a great add if you’re in a CB-required league or even as a DB if you’re in a tackle-heavy league. He did also have one forced fumble and one fumble recovery in his New Orleans stretch too, so he’s even serviceable as a DB in a big play league. Still only 24, Apple can be a great dynasty asset if he keeps his head on straight.
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